Film Studies: Joseph Zito

Basic Details

            Joseph Zito is an American film director and also a producer. He was born in 1946, and he was popular in the 1980s, having directed different films that were mainly based on the cult and also genre films. He worked with film stars of the 80s, such as Chuck Norris and others, into accelerating the film industry in the last century. Some of the movies that he directed include Invasion USA, Red Scorpion, Missing in Action, and The Prowler, among others. As a producer, Zito is known to have produced many of the movies he directed like The Prowler, Bloodrage, and also was an executive producer of Delta Force: The Lost Patrol in 2000. Three of his best known and widely acknowledged movies include Missing in Action in 1984, Invasion USA in 1985, and Friday the 13Tth: the final chapter, and they all reached number one on the box office in terms of their grossing after their theatrical release.

Film Review or Articles

            The section reviews some critical opinions on Joseph Zito. According to a website, when one thinks of horror movies, Joseph Zito’s work comes into the conversation. He has been described as one of the best producers and directors of horror films and producers, although he is not known in many feature films. The website claims that he producers some of the best “crazy and coolest” horror films and action flicks. The website argues that he produced and directed some of the best yet underrated movie flicks in the 1980s (Jimmy, 2017).

            However, according to critics who were posted on the Rotten Tomatoes website, many did not agree with some of his films, with Invasion USA receiving several criticisms, particularly with the plot. Many people seemed not to be satisfied, with some calling it a brainless plot. Through time out, a critic by the name Don Peretta claimed that the film was “xenophobic, leaden and utterly stupid. The critic also claimed that the movie was far offensive than Rambo and was not executed well” (Peretta, 2006).

            The last critic and review on Joseph’s movies is on his movie abduction. This was his debut film whose plot was based on the kidnapping of Patty Hearst. The criticism has valued the fact that although it was his first movie to direct, it was paramount for his career and put and shape his directing and producing career. The movie was on political activists, and the work of Joseph has been highly praised, taking into consideration that it was his debut movie to direct. Generally, many critics had appreciated Joseph’s actions, claiming that he was among the best directors, particularly when it came to horror movies. He was highly regarded in the 1980s, directing for Chuck Norris, one of the best movie actors of all time. As such, although his works have received mixed reactions from fans and critics as well, one cannot assume the fact that he was one of the best directors in the last century.


Film Comments

            The section will be reviewing Invasion USA and Abduction, two of the highly-rated movies that he directed in the 1980s.

Invasion USA

            Chuck Norris starred in the film in 1985 and has been regarded as one of the best movies that Joseph directed and also one of the most renowned movies to be produced in the 1980s. It is an action and thriller movie with a lot of fighting. In the movie, Chuck Norris fights off Cuban, and Soviet-led guerrillas. The editing in the film can be described as incredible based on the time of production, taking into account that special effects were still developing and hence very expensive. Most of the things were accomplished in more of a linear type of fashion. The special effects added in shooting and bombing scenes are just some of the representation of the editing or montage at the time.

            The sound and music in the film cannot be described as the best. Due to most keys being analog as opposed to the current evolved and use of special music editing effects, the sounds, and music in the film is under per with the use of instrumentation to project suspense and music in between the scenes. Most of these music has characteristic warble in them that are able to show different frequencies of soundtracks in the film.

            The cinematography in the movie has been and integration of several forms of shooting with medium shots, where the director has moved closer, mainly when the actors are talking, an extremely long shot where the director has ensured that a lot of information is being captured particularly during shootouts and bombing.

            The director has ensured that throughout the films, there are extraordinary camera work, particularly optical effects, and steady cam. This is evident when the star is almost attacking the villains in the movie. These scenes are being introduced with special music effects too. Lastly, there are different stunts that Chuck Norris is performing depicting the special effects. This is mainly during the shootouts in most of the scenes.


            Abduction film was directed in 1975 by Joseph Zito. It is a thriller film where a young newspaper heiress is abducted and brutalized by a group of kidnappers who later sympathetic because of their doings. The editing of the movie is not one of the best, even if it is considered that it was produced around 45 years ago. There are a lot of unclear scenes throughout the movie or different colors splashing on the screen, mainly when there is a television being watched by the actors.

            The sound and music is also reduced with so many unclear or extra loud scenes, while others have low sounds. During the shootouts, there is a lot of noise from guns, showing a lack of proper editing equipment while producing the movie. Instrumentals are not audible well in the film with some being too loud, particularly during violent scenes.

            The cinematography technique that has been utilized in the film is mainly close up shot where the director brings close the abductors and the girls in most of the scenes, allowing us to hear what they have to say and also allowing the viewer to feel more engaged. The director has also ensured the use of medium shoots in a more informative manner rather than emotional. The medium closes up shot has also been used, particularly while expressing the emotions of the girl throughout the scenes.

            There are several special camera effects in the movie, particularly during the shootouts, where the director wants the viewers to feel more engaged in terms of the action happening in the film. Steady cam has been used, together with over the shoulder cinematography, in a scene where one of the kidnappers is shooting at police when they have come to rescue the girl.

            Special effects have been incorporated in the movie and include unique stunts, particularly during the shootouts and violent scenes. Generally, the film is not one of the best in terms of pulling out stunts and using visual and other special effects. However, considering its time of production, 1975, the director worked hard to ensure that the movie would be capturing decades later.


Jimmy, O. (2017, July 18). WHERE IN THE HORROR ARE THEY NOW? FRIDAY THE 13TH/PROWLER HELMER JOSEPH ZITO. Retrieved March 25, 2020, from

Peretta, D. (2006, June 24). Invasion USA reviews. Retrieved March 25, 2020, from Rotten Tomatoes: